Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program Helps Military Spouse Caregivers Stand Tall And Achieve Their Dreams


“We were together every step of the way. We always knew we were a good team, but throughout everything this past year, our good team mentality has been put thru every test known to mankind.”

Danielle Kelly and her partner, Taylor Morris, met in high school. Committed to each other, they weathered all the storms of military life together while Taylor served in the Navy. The worst came when Taylor was deployed to the Middle East. A wrong step on an IED in 2012 left Taylor with both legs amputated above the knee and amputated left arm and right hand.

When all seemed lost, Danielle stepped in to bring them through this storm.

She put her life on hold to be by Taylor’s side during rehabilitation. But because the pair aren’t married, Danielle isn’t afforded any of the educational benefits other military spouse caregivers are entitled to.

The National Military Family Association, along with the Blewitt Foundation, is proud to partner with University of Maryland University College to give military caregivers like Danielle the chance to pursue their education at no cost to them. This funding was even recognized by the National Scholarship Providers Association for their 2018 Scholarship Provider of the Year award.

The Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program was created in 2013 to honor the extraordinary sacrifices of the family and non-family caregivers of our nation’s wounded or injured service members. Each year, multiple recipients will receive funding to cover full tuition, fees, and books.

“No one expects to become caregiver to their service member,” NMFA Executive Director Joyce Wessel Raezer explains. “Standing behind the uniform is hard enough, but we know if the unexpected happens, military spouses answer the call. We are honored to recognize the selfless heroes who put their own dreams on hold to support their loved one through an injury.”

As one of the first winners of the Pillars of Strength Scholarship, Danielle completed her Master’s in Business Administration on a full-ride scholarship at the University of Maryland University College and says she and Taylor are hopeful for their future.

“We are still standing tall,” she says. “We are still striving to accomplish our goals, while continuing to make new goals along the way.”

The Pillars of Strength Scholarship continues to help more caregivers achieve their educational goals and hopes to expand and impact more in the future. In fact, next year, the scholarship class will almost double and give even more selfless heroes like Danielle the chance to succeed that they deserve.

NMFA would like to recognize the 2018 class of recipients of the Pillars of Strength Scholarship: Sasha Dunne, Marie Gibson, Amberlynn Heffron, Maggie Keelty, Justina Knoefler, and Lauren Warner.

Find out more information or apply.

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